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From Sandy to Rocky, Pennsylvania is a Hikers Treasure Chest

At 3,213 ft, Mount Davis in Somerset County lords over the wild rivers of Southwest Pennsylvania.  And as the states highest point, it makes for one very rewarding (and fairly easy) hike.

Ricketts Glen State Park, which stretches across three counties in Northeast Pennsylvania, boasts 22 waterfalls in a 7-mile stretch. Presque Isle State Parks sandy paths along Lake Erie lead past exotic birds. Cutting across the state , The Appalachian Trail invites users into a corridor of nature, where traffic jams, computers and the modern world are all left behind.

Park planners have put a state park within 25 miles of any point in the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is the ideal hiking state. Its accessible and its free. All you need is a good pair of hiking shoes.

Pine Grove Furnace State Park, about 30 miles southwest of Harrisburg, marks the halfway point of the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail. Thru-hikers (those that hike from Spring mountain, Ga. to Mount Katahdin, Maine) traditionally celebrate the halfway point by eating  a half-gallon of ice cream from the parks general store. There is a trail book that marks the halfway point.

Far away from the Appalachian Trails tree cover, Presque Isle offers a completely different hiking environment. The far eastern point of the peninsula is actually growing, as sand carried by waves and currents build up.

Instead of packed dirt or hard rock, the trails are on packed sand. Songbirds come in a carnival of colors; Deep purplish brown, bright red, and vibrant yellows. even wild turkeys can be seen walking among the small trees.

A confluence of creeks running down the Allegheny Front Trail make for almost 2 dozen waterfalls at Ricketts Glenn. All that water makes for a cool ravine filled with big, leafy plants. The force of water also means the park is always changing: A waterfall moves back after its rocks crumble away, or a downed tree is across a footpath or creek.

Ricketts Glen has more to offer than any other hike as it the most rewarding spiritually.

Other "must do" hikes in Pennsylvania are:

Pennsylvania Online Rails-to-Trails Guide with interactive maps!
What activity are you choosing today?
Please Note:
* Downloads contain notes in *.pdf format compatible with any PDF Reader or Adobe Acrobat
*Downloads of maps are in *zip format to be opened with any de-compression software such as winzip, stuffitt, etc.
Hiking-Backpacking State Park Regions
Allegheny National Forest Region

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region
Lake Erie Region
Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies
Pittsburgh Region
Pocono Mountains/Endless Mountains
Philadelphia Countryside/Lehigh Valley
Valleys of the Susquehanna

Hiking-Backpacking Forest Regions

National Scenic Trails
State Forest Trails

Hiking-Backpacking National Scenic Trails

Appalachian National Scenic
North Country National Scenic
Laurel Highlands National Scenic


Hiking-Backpacking State Forest  Trails

Hiking-Backpacking State Park Regions
Allegheny National Forest Region

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region
Lake Erie Region
Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies
Pittsburgh Region
Pocono Mountains/Endless Mountains
Philadelphia Countryside/Lehigh Valley
Valleys of the Susquehanna
Hiking - Backpacking Community Based Trails 
Allegheny National Forest Region

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region
Lake Erie Region
Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies
Pittsburgh Region
Pocono Mountains/Endless Mountains
Philadelphia Countryside/Lehigh Valley
Valleys of the Susquehanna
Biking Community Based Trails
Allegheny National Forest Region

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region
Lake Erie Region
Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies
Pittsburgh Region
Pocono Mountains/Endless Mountains
Philadelphia Countryside/Lehigh Valley
Valleys of the Susquehanna

Biking Trails State Park-DCNR
Allegheny National Forest Region

Lake Erie Region
Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region
Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies
Pittsburgh Region
Valleys of the Susquehanna
Pocono Mountains/Endless Mountains
Philadelphia Countryside/Lehigh Valley
Equestrian Trails
Bigdamfish.net and Pa-Conservation.Org has realized a need for a comprehensive source of Pennsylvania horse trail information that may be leaving the impression Pennsylvania had little to offer in equestrian trails. On our quest to bring trails information into one complete resource area, we have discovered a variety of trails that tapped the stateís rich history and beautiful, natural resources.

Although we couldn't cover every trail system in Pennsylvania due to the ever-changing nature of trail systems, we did our best to provide a generous selection of trails sure to entice riders of every skill level and area of interest. 

Equestrian Trails
Pocono Mountains/Endless

Philadelphia Countryside/Lehigh Valley
Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region
Lake Erie Region
Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies
Laurel Hill Trails list Only
Pittsburgh Region
Valleys of the Susquehanna
Allegheny National Forest
ANF-Colton Point
ANF-Leonard Harrison State Park
Cook Forest-North Country Trail
Ski Resorts
Snowboard Areas
Snowmobile Trails
Cross Country Ski Trails

We do our best to gather all public trail information available from public sites and place it in one area for your convenience. We know there are many trails not mentioned that we are not aware of or do not have access to. Please send us any information you have on any trails and we will add it to its respective page and keep them updated. 

Mail to: Trailmaster 

All Terrain Vehicle Laws
Pennsylvania's State Forests offer ATVers six "summer only" trail systems and four "summer/winter" systems. Total trail mileage of the combined systems is under 300 miles being used by 158,000 ATVers. Statistics dispute this and show that there are more than a "few" ATVers in Pennsylvania. 

Download maps of legal trails and look for more information on the Super Trails Message Board.

All Terrain Vehicle Trails

Willow Creek ATV
Rocky Gap ATV
Timberline ATV Trail
Marienville ATV Trail
Bald Eagle Forest-ATV
East Kettle Road ATV
All Terrain Vehicle Trails
Martin Hill ATV 

Martin Hill - Bedford County
Sideling Hill ATV 
Sideling Hill - Fulton County
Burnt Mills
Maple Run
Michaux State Forest Area
Sproul State Forest
Bloody Skillet
Susquehannock State Forest
Tiadaghton State Forest
Jack Martin
Button Road
East Branch Trail
Snow Shoe Trail
Traveler Safety:
Addressing Dangers of the Forest

As a user of National Forest Lands, you are responsible for your personal safety during any activity you might pursue. The Forest Service does install signs and other information devices at various locations where site conditions warrant. However, the size of the National Forest and the variety of natural and man-made conditions limit placement if signs or other specific warnings and necessitates the use of more general education efforts.

Hazards include, but are not limited to: changing weather conditions; snow; overlooks with steep drop offs; falling trees or limbs, high or rushing water; contaminated water; wild animals; toxic plants, becoming lost or overexerted; hypothermia; remnants of historic structures, water wells, oil wells and changing road and trail conditions. You may also be exposed to the unreasonable acts of others.

The Forest Service does not manage or control all of these occurrences. It is your responsibility to know the hazards involved in your activities and to use the proper safety procedures and equipment to minimize the inherent risks and hazards related to your activity.

Slips, trips, and falls are the most common accidents in the woods. If you're off a maintained trail, you may have to contend with wet, uneven, often steep ground, hidden roots and holes, and logs and branches in your path. Boardwalks and bridges on trails are slippery in wet conditions. Walk with care.

Always check the weather before you start out. Hypothermia can also occur in summer when you're wet. Being wet and cold can make you less observant of other dangers around you.

Remember that animals live along streams and lakes. Don't drink untreated water, no matter how clean and clear it looks.

Black Bears:

          • Never approach of follow a bear (especially a cub).
          • Stay on established trails.
          • Hike during daylight hours only.
          • Hike in groups, and make some noise.
          • Never feed bears or leave food accessible to bears.
          • Avoid odorous items (scented deodorants, lotions, food, etc.).
          • Pets may attract bears - consider leaving pets at home or keeping pets on leash to minimize conflicts with wildlife.
  • Two poisonous snakes are known to occur on the Allegheny National Forest although neither is common. These include the northern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. Anyone who is bitten by a poisonous snake should seek prompt medical attention.
  • One of the most distinguishing features of poisonous snakes (pit vipers) is the diamond-shaped head that is well defined from the neck. These poisonous snakes have fangs, and elliptical pupils (as opposed to round pupils in nonpoisonous snakes).

    Copperheads are found mainly on the southern half of the Allegheny National Forest. They favor wooded hillside particularly rocky outcrops on south facing slopes where they can bask in the sun on warm days. 

    Rock piles, rotting logs, and wood piles may harbor copperheads. 

    Copperheads are copper to hazel-brown in color with darker hourglass shaped bands. They are stout-bodied and reach a length of 24 to 36 inches. Copperheads are sometimes confused with the nonpoisonous milk snake which has lighter colored cross bands. 

    (The book "Pennsylvania Amphibians and Reptiles" contains detailed descriptions and color photographs.) 


    Timber rattlesnakes may be found throughout the wooded hillsides of the Allegheny National Forest, but are usually found in association with rock outcrops and large boulders. 

    There are two color phases, black and the less common yellow phase. Crossbands are V-shaped and are dark-brown to black on the yellow phase. The black phase has a heavy stipling or flecking of dark browns or blacks. Timber rattlesnakes can reach 36 to 54 inches in length.

    Download this free  4 page *.pdf document for more information on the Pennsylvaina Timber Rattlesnake


    Noxious Plants

    POISON IVY - (Photo) Poison ivy is found throughout the Allegheny National Forest primarily on drier sites often in association with oak and sometimes near the edge of fields of along fence rows. It has 3 waxy dark green leaflets that are lighter and more fuzzy on the underside. It grows as a woody shrub or vine that climbs up trees. Poison ivy produces a white berry that persists from fall through the winter.
    In the U.S., there are five different types of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. All the contain exact same substance that causes the blistering, itchy rash most of us get on contact with these plants. Itís called toxicodendrol, a sticky sap in the leaves and branches of the plants. If youíre sensitized (allergic) to this sap (and more than half of us are), the rash breaks out after about 12-72 hours, but only on areas which directly contacted the resin. This is called rhus dermatitis. The rash is usually red, raised, and often blistered at the central most areas. Because people usually brush by the plants, the rash may have a "streaky," linear, or patchy pattern, unlike stings which are usually single and round.

    The rash spreads only by spread of the invisible sap on the skin, not by leaking blister fluid from the rash itself. That blister fluid is a product of your own body, and contains no poison ivy sap. The reason the rash often continues to break out in new areas beyond 72 hours is that people unknowingly continue to contact it --- from unwashed clothes (especially shoes and laces), sporting or gardening equipment, pets, etc. Anything that comes in contact with the plant can carry active sap for months! The sap is so potent, you can pass it from object to object a dozen times just by light contact, and the last object can still cause an intense rash. People leave an invisible "trail" of toxicodendrol where they sit, touch, sleep or bathe. They end up re-exposing themselves over a period of weeks. So donít worry about your oozing blisters being contagious --- just start washing everything you may have touched!

    Avoiding contact with the plant is the most important preventive measure. If youíve already come in contact with one of these, start washing everything --- soap, detergents and rubbing alcohol are all effective. This dramatically reduces the spread to yourself and others. In fact, if you wash with soap and water within 15 minutes after contact, you may not even get a rash.

    Several over-the-counter lotions and creams are available to treat mild cases. The poison can be carried by smoke, so be cautious when clearing and burning brush. Remember: LEAVES OF 3, LET IT BE!

    HOGWEED - (Photo) The plants thrive in many habitats but do particularly well where the soil has been disturbed, such as on wasteground or on riverbanks, where erosion combined with a good supply of groundwater provide ideal conditions. The plant, a member of the cow parsnip (Apiaceae) family which includes the humble carrot, has a base of large foliage surrounding the main stem which can grow to a height of 15 feet (5 meters). The small white flowers and seed pods radiate out from the top of the main stem and form a distinctive white canopy. This is similar to, but much larger than, the flowering heads found on the Common Hogweed.

    The growing season starts in late March, with full height and flowering being reached in late June and July. It is at this time that the plants are at their most impressive, and dangerous...

    The sap from the leaves and particularly the stem is highly toxic and contact with the skin can lead to severe scars. Contact with the eyes can lead to temporary or, in some cases, permanent blindness. The sap renders skin photo-sensitive which means that exposure to sunlight following contact causes blisters and burns. If you do come into contact with the plant, and especially the sap, you are advised to wash the affected areas immediately, keep them out of direct sunlight and seek medical advice.

    What PST Trail Downloads Contain:
    Regional information, maps, trail list and descriptions.

    National Scenic Trails and State Scenic Trails are larger trail systems that have Websites established. Please visit them when looking for information on these types of trails.

    Trail systems can be very extensive (5+ trails) marked as extensive trail system, taking up a large amount of space to list each one individually when covering such vast areas. All areas that contain a list of 5 or more trails has been placed into a file for downloading to provide complete information.
    Majority of downloads are in PDF format. If you do not have adobe acrobat reader, please click here  and download now. Its free.
    If maps are in *zip format, the file contains several maps that encompass that particular area or zoom shots of trailhead locations.
    Feel free to ask the trailmaster any questions about the downloads: trailmaster@pa-conservation.org

    Maps are marked in BOLD font
    We are not responsible for the quality of the maps.

    Tools For Trails
    Tools For Trails By Jim Schmid - An illustrated compendium of many of the tools commonly used in trail building and maintenance.

    Tools for Trail Work -- download a printable version in Word: text (tools.doc)  and cover (toolscover.doc)

    Acronyms and abbreviations: A  list of commonly used acronyms and abbreviations can assist trails and greenway managers and advocates decipher the "alphabet soup" of trail development.

    Many of the acronyms provided here were compiled for and published in Trails Primer: A Glossary of Trails, Greenway, and Outdoor Recreation Terms and Acronyms, 2001, Jim Schmid, editor, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Columbia, SC.

    Trails, Greenway, and Outdoor Recreation Terms: Compiled and edited by Jim Schmid

    Many of the glossary terms and definitions provided here were compiled for and published in Trails Primer: A Glossary of Trails, Greenway, and Outdoor Recreation Terms and Acronyms, 2001, Jim Schmid, editor, South Carollina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Columbia, SC.

    News and Events
    Updated News & Events at the DCNR: 
    Latest news releases, Recent information and Archives.
    National Park Service:
    Pennsylvaina list of: National Historic Sites, National Scenic Trails, National Heritage Corridors, National Recreation Areas, National Memorials, National Battlefields, National Cemetery, Scenic & Recreational River and National Scenic River.
    2005 Calendar of Events at DCNR:
    From guided interpetive hikes to craft shows, PA State Parks offer many exciting, educational programs and events. These events take place in and around state parks. This database is updated weekly. Be sure to check back often for the most recent events.
    The Pennsylvania Super Trails, brought to you by Pa-Conservation.Org, a not-for-profit organization, run by volunteers, promoting free public access to all public trail information and maps for outdoor recreation, dedicated to tourism and all conservation in the State of Pennsylvania.

    © 2006-2009  Pa-Conservation.Org  All rights reserved.

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